Friday, 5 October 2012

TV Bites: The Great British Tears

I have a terrible, shameful secret I must divulge. It is a secret that brings great shame upon me as a British citizen. I fear MI6-types and snipers are about to storm my crappy little flat and demand that I return my passport, my Oyster card, and my umbrella, such is the un-Britishness that I am about to reveal. You see, I don’t like Victoria Pendleton. There. I said it.

Victoria “Vicky” Pendelton. Britain’s Golden Girl. The great Olympic pain in the backside who can’t even contemplate mounting a bike without regaling us, once again, with the tales of how she mounted a member of the training team and was, like, so totally shunned by the other Team GB cyclists. Then we must prepare ourselves for the onslaught of tears that, quite frankly, are most likely the sole cause of any floods this country experiences.

Because if there’s one thing Little Vicky does exceptionally well – other than her blooming amazing ability to ride a bike really, really fast around a circular cycle track, which she does really well – it is crying. Oh, the tears are endless. I've been studying good old Vicky for a few months now, and have discovered at least three different types of tears.
  1. The "OMG I SLEPT WITH SOMEONE WHO WAS TRAINING US AND EVERYONE HATES ME" tears. Dragged out every single time Vicky recounts the story of how she fell for a Very Important Man who was partially in charge of instructing the British cyclists the best way to sit on their specially made bicycles without falling off of them. The British cyclists that weren't Vicky were absolutely livid, she tells us through the waterfall of tear drops cascading from her pretty little wet eyes, whereas she - being the British cyclist who was Victoria Pendleton - was pretty damn smug that she'd snagged her VIM. This story appears even without journalists asking for it. It's like her go-to introduction, instead of handing out a soggy business card. "Hi, I'm Victoria Pendleton *sob* and I *sob* slept with my *sob* VIM *sob sob sob*
  2.  The “OMG I'M A WOMAN AND I'M JUST SO EMOTIONAL, DAMMIT” tears. Our lovely Vicky cries a lot. And she tells us she cries a lot because she’s an emotional woman. An emotional woman? As opposed to what, Myra Hindley? Dear Vicky seems to have overlooked the fact that pretty much every woman is emotional. Don’t believe me? Ask any childless woman over the age of 25 if she’s met The One and has a kid yet. Chances are even the most hardcore, heartless bitch will be reduced to tears and the mere thought of her biological clock running out of batteries. But, oh not our Vicky. She will cry and insist that she’s just so much more emotional than anyone you will ever know. Because she’s a very emotional woman.
  3.  The “OMG I SIGNED UP TO STRICTLY COME DANCING FOR MORE PUBLICITY BECAUSE THE OLYMPICS ARE OVER BUT I CAN’T DANCE!!!!” tears. Fearing her Golden Olympic Girl crown slipping off of her glossy shampoo-advert-endorsed head, lovely Vicky signed up for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing. Never mind the fact that she has the grace of a wooden broomstick, she’s determined to win because a) she slept with her VIM and became victimised by four entire people for approximately eight minutes and b) because she’s so emotional and must win at all times. Halfway through her first routine, Vicky burst into tears. It was a bit like watching your dearest friend suffer from Bridget Jones syndrome and start crying at the mention of Colin Firth. The tears didn't really work, though, because she got the lowest scores of the night. She then tried to insist to Tess Daly that she didn't mean for the tears to come out, “They just happened.” Oh, Vicky. You fool no one.

There is no doubting Victoria Pendleton’s ridiculous talent for riding a bike very, very fast, or for advertising shampoo. Hey, she could have very likely made a career out of it. Instead, dear old Vicky has insisted on making a career out of crying and well, it just makes me ever so sad.

It makes me so sad that one of our greatest female athletes will not have the legacy of a great female athlete. No. The legacy Victoria Pendleton has carved for herself is that of a woman who has the most gruesome case of PMS for 52 weeks a year. And every person who's come across any woman in the midst of even one week's worth of PMS will know that it's just about the worst kind of legacy to have. *Sob*

Friday, 21 September 2012

A rant

When it comes to religion, I'm never quite sure where I fit in. I identify as a Catholic/Jew, as that best reflects my upbringing and feels like the most comfortable fit. I have no problem explaining the somewhat confusing upbringing to people when they ask. I flit between the two and have major respect for both religions and their customs.

But there's a dark side to Judaism. It became apparent to me at a very young age - eight, to be precise. "Jew Girl" became a nickname at school for me. It didn't really feel like an insult at that age and I brushed it off with my childhood naivety. But then I got older, and the true extent of how difficult it is to identify as Jewish became glaringly obvious to me.

Secondary school presented me with a whole host of problems. Most notably, the disgust I would be greeted with whenever my Jewish side became knowledge. It's followed me around ever since - people stating that they wouldn't trust me (because of my Jewish heritage), being told I should have a nose job (it's not that big) and generally being  blamed for every crisis going on in the world right now.

I'm a member of a student forum - The Student Room - and I'm sickened by how often there is a thread created that rapidly degenerates into something along the lines of "OMG THE JEWZ DID IT!!!!!1" whenever a tragedy is mentioned. Not to mention the fact that supposedly educated university students cannot differentiate between Judaism and Zionism (but let's save that for another time)

Enough is enough.

I don't care if you think that Jews are the root of all evil. I don't care if you think that "Jewish noses" are an abomination. I couldn't care less if you believe us all to be Shylock-esque characters with shady ulterior motives. When I care is when you make your disgusting views public and spout them as if they were fact.

People insist that anti-Semitism is a thing of the past. I can assure you it is not. I have many Jewish friends and, like myself, they encounter it on an almost daily basis. A friend's rabbi was spat at in the street. Spat at. In the street. In 21st Century London. Feel disgusted yet? No? The man is 67. So not only was he a man of faith, he was also an older gentleman. Whenever I recount this story, I'm greeted with comments along the line of "oh but it makes no difference how old he is or anything." I'm sorry, but has the world lost it's damn mind? Is it now completely acceptable to treat someone in that manner, regardless of their age or religion? Shoot, guess I missed the memo.

I'm not really sure why I'm posting this. I'm angry, sure, but it's something that's bugged me for a while. Maybe I'm just using this blog as a platform to get it all off of my chest. I'm rambling. I apologise.

I don't live in some fantasy world where no harm ever comes to anyone and where discrimination isn't present. I live in the real world. A world where, if you're a frequent visitor to the internet, it is now completely acceptable to be anti-Semitic. Regular, normal, everyday Jews are attacked and provoked over the Israel/Palestine situation. We are told that the Holocaust never happened (it did. Members of  my extended family perished in concentration camps. Deny it and I won't hesitate to give you a verbal beating). We're told we're shady, deceitful, arrogant creatures who should hide our religion and be ashamed of ourselves.

You know what I say to that?

Fuck you.

Why should I have to hide who I am in case it upsets or offends anyone? Why should my friends at university have to keep their religious status a secret for three years because they're terrified of the retributions? Why should a rabbi develop a fear of leaving his home?

Maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe I'll be shouted down by militant anti-Semites. But maybe, just maybe, it might cause you think for a second before you tell that oh-so-hilarious Jew joke.

I'm sick of it. They're not funny. They're offensive and they cause genuine harm to people.

As your mother said: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Amy Meets... A Teenage Mum

Most teenagers spend their days working hard for exams and making time for friends. Lucy* does all this and more.

When the 18 year old does manage to find the time to go shopping with her friends or head to the park, she has a permanent sidekick with her.

“It can be draining at times,” she says, lifting her incredibly heavy bag onto the table. “But I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Although she looks like a normal teenager, with her H&M skirt and New Look jumper, Lucy doesn’t act like a normal teenager. Instead, she has to focus her energy on caring for her son, Harvey*.

It was two years ago that Lucy found her life changing, when she joined her friends at a celebratory barbeque after receiving their GCSE results. “That was when I met him.”

The ‘him’ is Luke*, the then-18 year old who swept her off of her feet. “I'd never had a boyfriend or anything like that, and neither had my friends,” she explains. “We were all totally clueless. But he was older and I trusted him and I believed him.”

Lucy trusted Luke to the extent that she believed him when he told her she could take the morning after pill for up to a week. “I was such a silly, silly girl,” she sighs. “I didn’t realise that it was only effective for 72 hours. I felt so stupid when I found out.”

Just four months into their fledgling relationship, Lucy received the news she had always dreaded receiving. “I was never maternal, at all,” she laughs. “I had never mentally prepared myself to see those two little blue lines.”

Although she feared telling her parents, a dentist and a teacher, she was overwhelmed when they announced their support. Tears forming in her bright blue eyes, she says “they were so disappointed when I told them. But they promised to support any decision I made. It meant so much to me.”

Discovering she was pregnant at just sixteen changed Lucy’s life in more ways than she expected. “I lost nearly all of my friends. They just didn’t know how to accommodate a baby into their plans, which is fine. I miss their company, though.”

Despite being heavily pregnant, Lucy, who had dreams of studying politics and economics at university, managed to sit her AS Level exams last year, obtaining two As and two Bs. “My teachers thought I was insane,” she laughs. “They were probably right, to be honest.”

Today, Lucy’s life plans have changed. “I don’t want to work in politics anymore. They wouldn’t have me anyway,” she laughs. “I'm going to go back to school this autumn and continue my A Levels. After that, I'm hoping to get a place on a midwifery course.”

It’s a drastic change of career choice for the teenager, who admits that she has ulterior motives for the change of heart. “I had one health visitor who was incredibly horrible to me,” she explains. “I don’t know if it was the pressures of the job or a dislike for me, but she was so mean.

“I was having a rough time with postnatal depression and that was the last thing I needed. I'd like to train as a midwife and hopefully offer some vital support to other expectant mothers.”

It was, she stresses, a unique incident. “Every other midwife and health visitor I've seen has been nothing but lovely and supportive.”

Support was something Lucy was desperate for during the first six months of motherhood, when she found herself suffering from postnatal depression. “I just felt so empty and useless. I didn’t know what to do.”

Her condition was not made any easier by the breakdown of her relationship with Luke. Taking a deep breath, she says “he just walked into my house one day and said he didn’t want that life. No reasons, no excuses, just a simple ‘this isn’t for me.’

“I was absolutely heartbroken. Completely devastated. But mainly angry. So, so angry that he could just turn his back on his son, especially when I was having such a difficult time.”

Feeding Harvey a banana, she explains that Luke hasn’t been heard from since. “He left when Harvey was four months old and I haven’t seen or heard from him,” she explains. “He’s missed all of the best bits and it’s his loss.”

Lucy insists she has no regrets, stating that Harvey has given her life a new focus and direction that wouldn’t have been possible without him.

“I just want to work hard and give him the best possible life. After all, he gave me the most amazing life.”

*Names have been changed.

Monday, 13 August 2012

A Great British Send Off

Us Brits love a good moan. We complain about everything. People don't queue up properly, you'll get eyes rolled at you and hear a series of tuts along the line. If people are indeed queuing up properly by the line is too damn long, well shop assistants, expect eyes rolled at you and tuts from down the line. (We spend a hell of a lot of our time queuing over here. It's an art form). We complain about the weather: on sunny days, we moan it's too hot and uncomfortable and on rainy days we moan about it always being cold, rainy and miserable. There's never anything us Brits can't complain about. I've often wondered several times whether we should consider taking away the crown of 'national sport' from football and handing it to a bunch of Brits waiting at a train station. We'd win every prize going (you know, unlike with the football)

But something truly bizarre happened this month. For two whole weeks, barely a single person complained about anything (well, not in London at least). You see, for seven long years, Brits have been complaining non stop about the Olympics. "It's gonna cost us a bloody fortune", "won't be able to move for tourists", "great, yet more delays to the District Line", and my personal favourite "just give it to the French!" (NO! We give nothing to the French!). When the plans were announced for Danny Boyle's opening ceremony, the complaints rose and rose until they eventually reached a fever pitch and I'm pretty certain the majority of those complainers just complained so much that they spontaneously combusted because they were nowhere to be seen after July 27th.

The Opening Ceremony was truly magical. We had everything that made Britain so truly amazing. Yes, some of the things went completely over the heads of the foreign viewers (the NHS tribute, for example) but we had Voldemort, and sheep, and cricket, and Mr Bean and the Queen turning Bond Girl for a few minutes. It was almost as if a collective sigh of relief occurred on that night. Either that or Danny Boyle used a few tricks he learnt whilst making Trainspotting and just plain doped the entire country. Because for the first time in my living memory, everyone just shut up, got on with it and had a jolly good time of it.

We cheered our athletes home. We all felt like hugging Rebecca Adlington when she couldn't match her double gold from Beijing. We felt a huge bursting of pride when our male gymnasts accomplished the first British men's team gymnastics medal in 100 years. We screamed until we lost our voices when Mo Farrah ran his 10,000m race and we tears started forming when Jessica Ennis took the podium. We were amazed when Andy Murray actually sang the National Anthem (kudos to you, Mr Murray) and we were finally able to breathe on the tube because we weren't stuck underneath someone's sweaty armpit. Although, I did get squashed underneath one of our soldiers on a Central Line train heading to Bank. I didn't mind, I thanked him for doing the job G4S were too feckless to undertake.

They think it's all over...

I don't know a single person who didn't sit down to watch the Closing Ceremony. Rumours were flying everywhere - would The Who be there? Or perhaps Take That? One thing we knew for certain was that it would be the "greatest after party of all time" and that the SPICE GIRLS would be there. Seriously, I was a little girl in the 90s, the Spice Girls are my Gods (especially you, Victoria!). Twitter was buzzing, Facebook was buzzing, and I ended the night teary and without a voice.

The Closing Ceremony did have it's faults. One Direction mimed their way through a dismal set, and George Michael turned his originally-promising slot into an advert (would it have killed him to have done Club Tropicana or Careless Whisper?!). There was also the over-saturation of Jessie J who appeared to have lost the keys to her wardrobe as she proceeded to butcher We Will Rock You. But, never mind, it was still bloody amazing.

We had Timothy Spall (Battersea boy done good!) and the best of our British supermodels coming out to David Bowie's 'Fashion'. Take That came out to sing 'Rule The World' and I don't think there was a dry eye anywhere in the country; we all had so much respect and admiration for Gary Barlow who sadly had a stillborn daughter last week. Yes, we got bored when Seb Coe rambled on a bit like I do, but it was still a great night. Pele made an appearance for the Rio de Janeiro handover bit, and the wonderful Boris Johnson got down to Spice Up Your Life.

I commented on both Twitter and Facebook that it's not a British party until Wonderwall and Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life are played. Both came on, both were amazing. Although, my heart broke a little that Liam Gallagher insisted on being called Beady Eye whilst singing one of Oasis' two best songs (so wanted Noel to come out and trounce his brother with Don't Look Back In Anger, alas it was not to be). 

I felt myself swelling up with British pride at the end of our amazing send off. We've looked after the Olympics and they've been so good to us. London has been a magical place to live in over the past two weeks and I'm so glad I got to witness this spectacle in my home town. I'm so very sad to see it leave.

...It is now

The extinguishing of the flame was a sad sight to see. I'm sure everybody remembers the world's sympathies after the Beijing ceremonies, snidely remarking that London would never in a million years be able to top it. I'd like to think that they were incredibly wrong. I think London did an amazing job at creating two beautifully diverse ceremonies and I now feel some sympathy for Brazil, who now have to beat us. If last night reminded the world of anything it's this: there is no music on earth that matches the excellence this little island has to offer. From Lennon, to Mercury, via Madness, Pet Shop Boys, George Michael and Bowie, we've had it all. Thank you for sharing in a most special night with us.

As I sign off, I can't help but wonder if things could be done a little differently in future. The main Olympics is all done and dusted now and we have a few weeks to go until the Paralympics. Could the two not be run concurrently in future? Think of how epic the closing ceremonies would be then! Just a thought...

Friday, 10 August 2012

A Heartbreaking Moment of Reflection

It happens every so often. An impassioned Facebook posting, or a heartbreaking plea in the national newspapers that tells us every parent’s worst nightmare: a child has gone missing.

This past week has been a bizarre week for the UK. We’ve been flying dizzily high on the coattails of the Olympics, basking in the glory of our wonderful athletes and merrily sticking two fingers up to the rest of the world (but mostly the French) at how well we’ve done.

As I logged onto Facebook last week, I was confronted with not one, but two missing children. Two beautiful young girls who had seemingly vanished into thin air. The first, 14 year old Molly O’Donovan from Banbury, Oxfordshire, disappeared on her way home from school. I forwarded on an email to everyone I knew and struggled with my desire to head up to Banbury to help search for her.

In the midst of the search for Molly another plea launched onto the Facebook timeline. This one was much closer to home. Just a few miles from my home, 12 year old Tia Sharp had gone missing. The appeal stated that she had left her grandmother's house in New Addington to make the short journey to Croydon to buy a pair of shoes.

Devastatingly, the news came on Tuesday (7th August) that Molly’s body had been found in woodlands on the outskirts of Banbury. Such a beautiful young life extinguished for reasons that haven’t been made clear. Her heartbroken family have requested no public contact and we must respect their wishes. What they are going through is unimaginable.

Following the heartbreaking discovery of Molly’s body, fears began to grow for Tia. Just twelve years old, the reports surrounding her disappearance were conflicting at best, confusing at worst. Nobody really seemed able to confirm who was the last to see her, except the unanimous confirmation that Stuart Hazell, the partner of Tia's grandmother, was the last to see her. He stated during a television interview that he walked her to the local tram station, yet no CCTV footage of Tia on any trams or buses could be found. Eventually, he stated that he was not the last person to see her. Everyone who commented on the situation shared the same opinion: something doesn’t add up.

Police forces from Yorkshire were drafted in to assist the Metropolitan Police in their search for Tia. The Yorkshire police force have unfortunate experience in searching for a missing young girl in unusual circumstances, following the bizarre and sickening events surrounding the disappearance of Shannon Matthews.

At around 5pm today (10th August, I sat back to enjoy a relaxing evening following a long day of writing when my phone buzzed. A message from a friend of mine telling me to brace myself and switch on one of the news channels.

The announcement was made that a body was found in the house of Tia’s grandmother, confirming everyone’s worst fears. The police also announced that they were launching a manhunt for Stuart Hazell, the partner of Tia’s grandmother. The same man who sat on national television and delivered a heartfelt plea for Tia’s return that convinced just about nobody.

My first thoughts at hearing both pieces of devastating news was identical in each case. Those poor, poor, beautiful little girls. They will never experience the joys and awkwardness of teenage life that we all take for granted. They will never be able to giddily recount the first time they were asked for ID and could merrily produce it. They will never experience life. It is almost too difficult to think about.

At the time of publishing this post, the Metropolitan Police have requested that anyone who sees Stuart Hazell should not approach him and should instead call 999. Everyone I know – parents in particular – are united in their shock over the events of the past week. Even one missing child is too many, but for the world to lose two beautiful young girls before they had even begun to live their lives? It's just too cruel for words.

Twitter: @AmyWhitear

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Writer's Block

It was all going so well. Halfway through one novel, a quarter of the way through another, and planning finished for a third. Feelers put out there, envelopes and paper bought for the submissions. And then boom. Writer's block. I sat down this morning to continue another writing session and nothing happened. Fingers were poised, tea was brewing, but not a single word came out.

I've decided to stop for the rest of the week. I'll come back on Saturday (or Monday) hopefully with a fresh mind, hopefully with new ideas. Hopefully these damn novels will be finished soon. I certainly hope so.

In the meantime, I've started Cupcakes & Calamity which will eventually grow into a lifestyle blog of sorts, detailing bits and pieces and hopefully growing into a happy and healthy hobby. Take a look and let me know. New posts will be updated every Sunday.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

The Great Depression Shield

It's the taboo subject that isn't really a taboo subject yet still has an enormous stigma attached to it. I am, of course, talking about mental illness. 

As children, we're never really told about depression, or schizophrenia, or psychosis in the same way that we're told about asthma, eczema, or the common cold. So when we grow up to be faced with these issues, we simply don't know how to handle them. There is no education about mental illness, yet it's something we're all expected to know about. We should know how to assist a friend suffering from depression and we should know how to handle a schizophrenic individual but we just don't. And it's incredibly terrifying.

In the UK, 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year. I know that it's affected me, and plenty of people in my life. I've suffered with depression on and off for seven years now. I don't mean that I feel a little sad from time to time and get a bit teary. When I'm struck with an episode, it is catastrophic. I go from being quite an outgoing individual to a shielded introvert who suffers from chronic panic attacks and can't sleep for days on end. 

Luckily - or unluckily, depending on how you view it - I have a mother who has also suffered from extenuous mental health issues over the years so I grew up knowing that you don't have to suffer in silence and there is no shame in seeking help for it. But how many others are out there blighted by depression who just don't have the information or support system to seek help? I would wager that the number is dangerously high.

My anxiety and related panic attacks have been a burden for an extremely long time. At my previous job, my employers didn't want to handle my rare panic attacks which would leave me needing just ten or fifteen minutes breathing space. It got to a stage where I felt like the best possible solution would be for me to leave. I wasn't expecting to receive special treatment, but a bit of understanding wouldn't go amiss.

Unfortunately, during my research for this article, I discovered that I'm not the only person who has been made to feel like a burden on their employer. One girl I spoke to - who has asked to not be identified - returned to work after a month off, due to a breakdown. Upon her return, she was subjected to colleagues making jokes about her being a 'nutjob' or 'special case' and an employer who was reluctant to allow her to leave early one day to make it to an appointment with a psychiatrist. 

After just three weeks back at work, she found herself facing a dilemma. Should she stay at work, knowing it's the best thing for her, and be subjected to cruel comments, or should she leave her job and begin freelancing? Sadly, she left her job and is now struggling to find anything in her field.

Another individual I spoke to made a bold move that not many others would make when he started a new job: He informed his employers from the very beginning that he was a sufferer of a variety of mental illnesses, hoping that the clarity would make things easier. He had been diagnosed as schizophrenic whilst at university, and was also on medication for anxiety.

Instead of finding himself with compassionate employers who offered their sympathy, he found himself in an office full of reluctant colleagues, each one afraid to communicate with him because he was a 'psycho.' Eventually, his employer asked him to leave as he had created an 'unwelcome atmosphere' within the working environment.

Hearing those stories made me absolutely furious. Can you imagine an employer asking a physically disabled employee to leave because them being in a wheelchair made everyone else uncomfortable? Can you imagine the outrage if a pregnant woman found herself subjected to insults whilst in the workplace? It would just simply not be acceptable. So why is mental illness any different?

Legally, employers are required to make any necessary adaptations when they hire a person who is physically disabled. There are currently no laws protecting those who have mental illnesses. An employer doesn't have to make provisions to allow someone time off to see their psychiatrist, yet they have to for a pregnant employee.

I know there are some wonderful employers out there who bend over backwards for their employees and try their utmost to provide them with a safe, welcoming work environment. However, there are far too many who do little to nothing to assist their employees who suffer from a form of mental illness. Insulting the physically disabled used to be the norm and is now, rightly, incredibly prohibited. Why can't the same be said for those who have a hidden disability?

Twitter: @AmyWhitear

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Look! I'm a grown up!

Last year, I wrote a post about being scared of turning 20. In the post (which has since been deleted from that particular blog) I theorised that this would be the decade where I would be forced to grow up, start a career, start a family and dive head-first into old age. I rounded up the post by stating that it was hard for me to say goodbye to my teenage years, and even harder to accept the fact that this is the decade where life gets serious.

I'm a whole year into my twenties now. Last week marked my 21st birthday. It was a monumental occasion for me - my mother could hardly believe that her first born had reached the pillar of adulthood, my sister spent the entire day calling me old, and I became giddy after realising that I could legally drink in America. It became incredibly tempting to run away to Las Vegas without my boyfriend, just to prove a point. (The point being that, because I am two months older than him, I am two months cooler than him)

Despite having a wonderful birthday week full of wonderful family and friends, the fears I'd expressed last June hung over my head like a dark shadow. Paint me depressed and call me Eeyore! I realised that I still don't have a proper career. Instead, I'm stuck in a job that has destroyed my social life, my confidence and my aspirations. I do still have a proper relationship, although like all other relationships we have our ups and downs. I'm still pretty determined that I'm not sacrificing my vagina for a child any time soon, in spite of the fact that almost every friend I have seems determined to force out children like a fashion craze.

I am still crippled by the insecurities of my future. I still have no real career in mind, nor do I have any sort of clue what I see myself doing forever. I do, naturally, fear that I'll drift from job to job until I succumb to either homicidal thoughts or my minuscule pension. But one thing I've realised over the past year is that I'm not alone in these thoughts and insecurities. It appears to be a plague on my generation. We've been labelled the "lost generation" and it's not hard to see why. Most of us lack any real direction - sure, we might be at university, or working in slightly good jobs, and we might have a general idea of where we want to end up, we just have absolutely no idea how to get there.

Unemployment is at a ridiculous high at the moment. Schools are stretched, filled to the brim with teachers who don't have the available resources to help as much as they would like, and teachers who just don't particularly care about the majority of their students. We're consistently told to "grow up, get a real job" and stop dreaming, by people who have become so bitter at giving up on their own dreams. The future isn't exactly shining bright for those of us in our early twenties.

But, unlike last June, I'm no longer paralysed by The Fear. So what if I haven't got a First Class Degree? So what if I'm still figuring out what I want to do in life? I've only just begun having an immense amount of fun in this life. We're here for a fun time, not a long time, and I refuse to allow myself to be dragged down over the fear of growing up. After all, Peter Pan never had to do it.

Twitter: @AmyWhitear

Friday, 22 June 2012

50 Dull Shades Of Grey

Unless you've been living underneath a rock for the best part of this year, you will know that the latest literary sensation is the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Written by E L James, the "mummy porn" series follows a young, bright eyed Anastasia Steel as she is mercilessly seduced by the billionaire Christian Grey. It appears to be the book every woman has nestled underneath her pillow: you see it on buses, trains, tubes, and now, apparently, there is a film version on it's way.

Desperate to understand the hype behind the series, I downloaded the entire trilogy last week and embarked upon the 'Fifty Shades Journey.' Now, I'm not a mummy, nor am I desperate for a kinky, erotic fix in my life, but I thought I'd dive head first into the first novel to see if I would have anything to contribute to the numerous conversations my female friends are having about the 'thrilling trilogy.'

I settled down on Monday with a cup of tea and the first book, ready to be taken on a wild, exhilarating journey through the young Ana's eyes. I made it to the end of chapter one and was ready to gauge my eyes out. I forced myself to the end of the book and can honestly say it is, without a doubt, the worst book I have ever read. The 'kinky, boundary pushing' sex scenes were boring, and the love story between the two leads was tedious. I finished Fifty Shades of Grey this morning, and I can safely say I won't be opening the next two in the series.

Having shamefully read the entire Twilight series, it became painfully obvious very early on that E L James started her Fifty Shades of Grey journey as a writer of Twilight fan fiction. The parallels were too blatant to dismiss: the young, shy girl, stuck in the mindframe that she isn't pretty enough or cool enough to ever stand out from the crowd, whisked off of her feet by an incredibly beautiful man who manages to see her beauty and charm despite no one else being appealed by it. And herein lies the problem.

Twilight, in my mind, is an incredibly sexist story. Throughout the series, we are told that Bella Swann cannot survive without Edward Cullen. She consistently needs him to reassure her of her strengths, and hide her weaknesses. There is a desperately annoying scene in the New Moon episode which sees Bella attempting suicide because Edward has left her. It was the reason Twilight ruined any minuscule credibility it had in my mind, and it is the reason I despair at my grown friends holding it up as an incredibly romantic tale. Likewise, I consider Fifty Shades of Grey an abhorrent tale that is basically just Twilight without the Mormon influence.

I am not under any illusions that women will realise just how badly these two series' are patronising them, but I am incredibly worried that the next generation of bright, young women (including my young cousins, sisters, and my boyfriend's nieces) are being raised to believe that these stories are hopelessly romantic. They are not, not under any circumstances. Someone hand these women a copy of Wuthering Heights, before all hope is lost.

Twitter: @AmyWhitear

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Get a life? I've already got one, thanks

On a rare evening off work, I settled down to watch the latest of BBC Three’s allegedly groundbreaking documentaries. In the past, we’ve been treated to individuals with freaky eating habits, not-so-informative sex education shows, and mothers and daughters with serious issues. Tonight, it was the turn of Cherry Healey in the form of her latest documentary series HowTo Get A Life.

The majority of the ‘documentaries’ offered up by BBC Three force me to sit there with my head in my hands. They often seem forcefully dumbed down, created by producers desperate to connect with the ‘urban yoof.’ As an ‘urban yoof’ myself, I find these documentaries incredibly patronising and I rarely learn anything, nor do I connect any of them to my own personal life.

I admit that I was a fan of Cherry’s previous documentaries for the channel, charting her stories on losing her virginity, dating, and parenting. However, I can’t really the say the same for the latest offering. The first in this series, titled Single vs Settled, presented us with Cherry pondering whether or not settled life had turned her into a bore. Over the course of an hour, we were greeted with several arrogant individuals with incredibly inflated egos, sleeping their way around town. It is honestly a miracle one of them hasn’t ended up with an STI or unwanted pregnancy.

Cherry’s own admission that she hadn’t changed her relationship status on Facebook to ‘married’ slightly shocked me. She stated that was putting off the change because she almost didn’t want to admit to herself that she was settled, committed, and no longer young, free and single. Is married life really that awful? Must we stop having fun as soon as we reach a certain stage in our relationship? I've been with my boyfriend for almost two years now – it’s a milestone relationship for the pair of us – and, if anything, I feel as if my life has become more exciting.

I'm with an individual who shares most of my interests: nights in with a takeaway and a DVD, nights out to either a restaurant or a cinema, fun days and nights out with our extended groups of friends – both single and those ‘tied down’ – and our mutual sarcastic status. I'm with someone who is supportive and encouraging of my writing, on top of my other personal endeavours. Likewise, I am also incredibly supportive of his education, and will continue to support him until – and after – he achieves his personal goals. The past 21 months have honestly been some of the most exciting months of my life, filled with love, laughs, and incredible memories.

Some of my single friends lament at my relationship status. They are enjoying their lives, being free and able to do whatever (and whoever) they want, whenever they want. They consider my life boring, and I should consider diving head first into their lifestyle. But it really doesn’t appeal to me. After all, is sleeping around with anyone who’s game for it really that exciting or cool? For me personally, the idea of sleeping with upwards of 100 people is absolutely abhorrent. Never mind the fact that it would be ridiculously tiring, I have no idea how you would even fit 100 people into your life, never mind the circa-170 men Bianca has fitted into 22 years of  life. I fail to see how anyone could be proud of that sort of lifestyle: sure, have your fun and enjoy yourself, but knowing that your legs are almost like a revolving door? The idea is absolutely revolting to me. I find it incredibly disgraceful that this behaviour seems far too common in Modern Britain, and even more disgraceful that this sort of behaviour is rewarded with reality TV shows, documentaries, and even book deals.

I know that most people of my age group would find the idea of settling down horrifying, but I find that it suits me. I'm sure that those featured in the programme tonight enjoy their own lifestyles and are, indeed, having fun. Maybe I'm just incredibly old for my age, but I would get rather bored of getting drunk, taking drugs, and sleeping around all the time, fairly quickly. Some may consider my life boring, but it’s my life. And it’s a bloody amazing one.

Twitter: @AmyWhitear

Friday, 15 June 2012

My Race for Life Experience

A few months ago, I sat with my boyfriend and decided I needed a new challenge. I'm heading abroad for the first time in my life later this year, and decided I needed to get my Beach Body ready in time for our September departure. I spent hours searching for the solution to my problem when something popped into my head: I could do the Race for Life in Battersea Park!

I knew the event was held there every year. As a 10-year-old Girl Guide, I helped out at the event, handing out medals to the wonderful women who participated. As a 16-year-old, I cheered on my younger sister doing the race. This time, it would be me pushing myself to the limit around the park I spent my childhood in.

Cancer Research is a charity very dear to my heart. As a child, I lived through the excruciating horror of my mum being diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully, she won the fight. But there are so many others who don't, including my great-grandfather, and numerous family friends. So with the still-raw pain of my mum's diagnosis in my head and heart, I signed up for the Battersea Park event and decided to go ahead and do something amazing.

My first training session was nine weeks ago. It ended up being my only training session. It was cold, wet, and miserable outside, and my 5k training became a race to McDonald's with my boyfriend. We made it to McDonald's at Wandsworth Roundabout (a mere eight minute jog from my house) and promptly got the bus back home. It subsequently proved to be my only training session. Over the past nine weeks, I conditioned myself to go from thinking of it as a 5k run to a simple 'stroll in the park.'

That all changed as I arrived in Battersea Park. Arriving an hour early with my boyfriend in tow, I could hardly contain the excitement I felt. I could hear 'The Promise' by Girls Aloud blaring over the speakers and suddenly felt energised. Heart DJ Toby Anstis kept everyone motivated with his own personal story, and high-fived numerous women who crossed the finish line. The whole way round the park, I kept trying to hear his voice, as I knew that meant I was almost done. A wonderful motivation! I spent a very long time reading all the signs on the backs of tshirts, discovering who these wonderful women were running, jogging, or walking for. It spurred me on to make a decision that, in hindsight, was probably quite stupid.

As everyone was lining up to start the race, I joined up with the joggers. I have absolutely no idea why. But I did it! I jogged the full 5k, stopping every now and then to take in the beautiful sights of my local park, filled to the brim with thousands of women running or walking around by the river. What pushed me on more than anything was Dame Kelly Holmes, who can only be described as Superwoman! I think she spoke to pretty much every woman who was participating that day and I know I enjoyed my little two-minute chat with her as I jogged along.

I had such an amazing day, although my body is feeling the effects now. I ache from the waist down, but it's a good pain. I did my first Race For Life on Wednesday, and I've already set the plans out for next year too! I implore every woman reading this to sign up for your local event. There are still places available and you have no idea how amazing you will feel afterwards.

Photo Credit: Toby Anstis

Twitter: @AmyWhitear

Monday, 11 June 2012

Fifty Shades of Gay

Can we just all take a moment to appreciate the glory of the Tony Awards, please?

The Tonys are my favourite night of the year, and the below clip proves exactly why. I applaud NPH for once again delivering a great show. I'm delighted that Once won Best Musical. I stared wide-eyed at the Newsies performance. And I'm absolutely horrified that James Corden won an award (an absolute travesty).

I'll get to Broadway one day. Not as a performer (those dreams went to bed long ago) but as a delighted audience member. It just feels like the natural order of things.

Look! It's Patti LuPone! It's Jesse Tyler Ferguson! It's Annie!! What if like were more like theatre? Well, life would be pretty damn amazing in my opinion.

Oh, and Book of Mormon comes to London next March! After seeing the Tony performances, reading the reviews and listening to the cast recording a million times, I implore you to book tickets and go and enjoy the magical Trey Parker/Matt Stone creation.

Twitter: @AmyWhitear

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Great Olympic Fools

If there's one thing hardly anyone knows about me, it's this: as a child, Taekwondo was my life. I joined my local club - a very small one - at the age of eight and rapidly fell in love with the sport. I competed at regional, national, and international level, and won medals at each competition. I was devastated when my club folded, mainly because I'm still here many years later and yet to find another great club that has the proper affiliations.

Not many people are aware of Taekwondo. It's not as well known as it's cool cousins karate and judo. But something has happened over the past few weeks that has propelled Taekwondo in to the mainstream. Aaron Cook is arguably Britain's greatest Taekwondo fighter, having won more medals than most could count over the past few years. He came forth in the Beijing Olympics at the age of 17 and looked an absolute certainty to scoop at least a bronze medal in his home Olympics. Except, that's not going to happen. Because for some absurd unknown reasons, he hasn't been selected to participate.

I never imagined that so many people would care about my little sport. When I mention it to people in passing, I normally have to spend a good ten minutes trying to explain the sport before eventually giving up and just saying, "it's a bit like karate." But here we are. Taekwondo is not only featuring in national newspapers, it's also on Sky Sports News. People with absolutely no affiliation to the sport - and I dare say that some have never even heard of it, nor care about it - are suddenly up in arms at the thought of one of our best medal options being sidelined for someone who, I'm sad to say, doesn't quite match up to the skills Aaron Cook has to offer.

I know there isn't much an individual like me can do. I even doubt a collective army of enraged individuals can change the minds of the selection board. But what we do need to do is raise awareness of this beautiful sport. We need to get more kids involved in Taekwondo. We do need to find a way to get Aaron to compete at the highest level. Taekwondo is more than just a sport - it is a way of life. It becomes second nature. Even now, I find myself counting in Korean, or comparing someone's actions to a Taekwondo movement. By refusing to allow Aaron Cook to compete, the powers that be are doing so much more than just taking away his chances of Olympic glory, they are taking away the very thing he breathes for. I can only hope something changes.

Join the fight to get Aaron to the Olympics. Sign the petition here:

Twitter: @AmyWhitear

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Idiot of Baker Street

Life has funny ways of testing us. Practically from birth, we're subjected to a series of lengthy examinations that determine whether or not we're up to the incredibly strenuous job of living: doctors exams, school exams, driving tests. But one of them grabs the title of being the most repulsive of all - the job interview.

I've been through more than my fair share of the dreaded interviews. Incredibly smug people grinning at you, doing their best to put on the correct airs and graces, offering you a glass of water and promising you that it will be an easy half an hour. Except, nothing ever goes to plan. I can remember in painstaking detail the most awful interview I've ever been through.

I had not long finished my final year of school when I decided I wanted to try working in the hotel industry. I took the necessary steps, enrolling on a hospitality course at college, attending front office training courses, and going through as many tedious practice interviews as I could tolerate. After seven painful months, I finally got the interview I'd been waiting for.

A prestigious five-star hotel in Mayfair had decided that my CV was good enough to merit an interview with them. I spent a good hour getting ready, going over the facts I knew about the hotel and convinced that I knew enough to at least warrant a polite rejection letter, if not, the holy grail of second interviews: the call back.

I arrived in Picadilly Circus and began walking down to the hotel when my brain suddenly decided to start paying attention to the busy West End life. I started looking at tourists for the first time in my life, taking in the sights for myself. It was then that I found myself planning my journey home: I would get on the 22 I had just seen to Baker Street, and make my way home from there via the underground.

I wish I had never looked at that bus, for it forced me to commit the stupidest moment in my life.

Bearing in mind, I was only seventeen, and still a complete Disney kid at heart, I walked in to the interview, gracefully shook hands with the manager who would be interviewing me, and proceeded to do pretty well in the interview. I knew the names for all the software equipment, I knew my way around London, and I was prepared to work twelve hour shifts.

The question of "what do you know about this hotel" came about quickly and I was delighted. I had spent hours researching the place ever since I received my interview invitation. I took a deep breath, recited a few facts, and then thought I'd pop in the most interesting fact I knew: that the first few Poirot books were written in the hotel. Except, I didn't say Poirot.

I said Sherlock Holmes. Why? Because of that damn 22 bus. It's destination was Baker Street. Baker Street in my head automatically equals "Basil of Baker Street" from Basil The Great Mouse Detective. Basil lived underneath the floorboards of Sherlock Holmes' house. And Sherlock Holmes became responsible for me messing up the greatest interview of my life.

I'm able to look back and laugh at the absurdity of the day now - I've since worked in some great, and some not so great, hotels, and feel confident enough in my ability to know that I would perform well in an interview should I ever decide to return to the hotel industry. But it was devastating to me then. It was the job of a lifetime for me then and I ruined it all because I couldn't get that stupid little mouse out of my head.

I found myself on Baker Street again last week and couldn't help but laugh as I overheard a young child excitedly asking their father if they could go and see where Basil lived. I can only hope that Disney mouse doesn't cost that little boy a job one day.

Twitter: @AmyWhitear

Monday, 21 May 2012

Young, Dumb, and Making a Bomb

As a writer who is struggling to figure out ways to gain attention, I'm becoming increasingly frustrated with the current influx of "writers" hired by national newspapers and magazines. It appears that if you are not young, blonde, ditzy, or the star of a woeful reality television show, you do not stand a snowball's chance in hell of getting published.

The ongoing Samantha Brick saga inspired me to delve further into my theory. Here is a reasonably attractive middle-aged woman (who totally lives in France, by the way) who is seemingly making a fortune by writing about how beautiful she is and how tough life is for the beautiful, comfortable, blonde expat in France. Her archive on the Daily Mail website reads like a teenage psychology student's wet dream: chubby as a child, haunted by her weight problems throughout life, until she settles down with a Frenchman and moves to France where she can revel in her beauty.Except she's not revelling in her beauty because, apparently, the world hates beautiful women. My friend was quick to rubbish the whole "I'm so beautiful" article by describing Samantha Brick as "looking like a dog's arsehole", and there precisely is the problem.

Ms Brick is not a stunningly beautiful woman. Angelina Jolie and Scarlett Johansson will be losing no sleep over her beautiful threat. Tulisa can remain calm: her dubious title of World's Sexiest Woman is safe. What Ms Brick is, however, is a somewhat average yet still attractive woman who is so arrogant and conceited that one wonders whether it is those very factors that conjure up feelings of hatred in her fellow women, rather than her blonde hair and doe eyes. The Daily Mail - and I'm sure Ms Brick herself (who lives in France) - are raking in the revenue from her many articles, so I fear we have not seen the end of her, or her dog arsehole looking face.

But I can handle the dreadful articles by Oh So Beautiful Samantha. A girl needs a giggle when she's stuck with either insomnia or writer's block. What I am finding harder to deal with is a current column running in London's Evening Standard newspaper. Every week, we are treated to the delightful offerings of Caggie Dunlop, 'star' of Made in Chelsea. Her column - the imaginatively titled Laid in Chelsea - is hilariously labelled as a sex advice column, in which the incredibly wise 23-year-old socialite imparts her vast knowledge with the no doubt exhausted readers of the Evening Standard.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all rely on Daddy's money to build a television show around ourselves, and then use that as a launch pad to deliver our humdrum writing? I could strangle my parents for having the audacity to give birth to and raise me South of the River, with Chelsea as my background scene. Think of how different my life would be if I'd have been raised a ten minute walk away - people might actually read the dross I publish on this blog!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Happy Tuesday

I fear that I have lost my mind. Yesterday, during a spot of shopping with the other half, I fell in love with the most beautiful pair of trainers. I promised those beautiful little Nike duo that I would be back to release them from the noisy hell of Westfield and would shower them with love and affection until the next new love comes along. I needed to justify why I - a woman who spends her life in pumps - would possibly want or need a pair of trainers. So in a haze of pure delirium, I signed up for the Race for Life in my local park in June.

At the time, it didn't cross my mind that I never run for anything except last call in the pub. I happily signed up, set up my fundraising page ( and started dreaming of raising money, doing something for a Very Good Cause (TM) and owning that beautiful pair of trainers. And still buzzing from the adrenaline of actually doing something good, I managed to allow my aunt to talk me into doing a second Race for Life - this time in July - with her and a few cousins.

So here I am. Still no trainers, but £30 down. A total of 10K to run this summer, and I still haven't figured out how to walk up a flight of stairs without having to pause for breath and a drink (vodka, preferably). I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to manage this. Death may be next on the list.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Night of the Living Beliebers

Think back, if you will, to late 2009. Ireland were still reeling after Thierry Henry's handball, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were found guilty of Meredith Kercher's murder, Patrick Stewart became Sir Patrick Stewart, and the worst thing Canada had ever done was force Trey Parker and Matt Stone to write 'Blame Canada'. No one could be prepared for the almighty shitstorm that was about to reign upon us.

January 2010 saw the UK launch of the incredibly high-pitched, and highly-styled haircut of a certain Mr Justin Drew Bieber. The insanely annoying 'One Time' catapulted him into the hearts of millions of prepubescent girls, and into the 'I don't care' files of millions of adults. But we should have cared. Oh, boy, we should have paid more attention.

Now, the Bieber is harmless enough. His songs are, quite frankly, abysmal at times, and the oft-copied ludicrous hairstyle is but a memory now. He's just a young kid living his dream (TM) and making an absolute fortune in the process. Good on him. Who wouldn't want to be so rich it masks the pain of growing up in Canada? The problem I have isn't with the singing Canadian haircut. It's with the legion of rabid fans who have become so obsessive that I genuinely fear for their health.

The self-styled Beliebers seem harmless enough from the outside: just a small army of almost teenage girls who idolise the little Bieber (I say little as I have literally no idea how tall he is. And, also, he's younger than me, making his height a null point). Every young girl or boy goes through a stage of having their celebrity crush, or hero, but never before have I seen it taken to such drastic lengths.

Beliebers sit at their computers (which they're too young to operate correctly) playing Justin's videos on repeat on YouTube (which are amongst the most viewed videos of the site's history) and spouting actual hatred towards anyone who dares to criticise him. I'm not talking silly little "you're an idiot" type playground arguments. These little creatures launch mass attacks of the vilest kind.

There was a highly publicised incident in late 2010 in which a disgustingly high number of Beliebers took to Twitter to send absolutely disgusting and horrifying messages to Lily Allen. The singer - a prolific user of Twitter - had suffered a second heartbreaking miscarriage and the response from a high number of Beliebers on the site is enough to make anyone's skin crawl. The exact message which had been retweeted a shockingly high number of times has been deleted, but thanks to the magic of the internet, it lives on...

You may wonder what Lily Allen's crime was? She once sent a tweet stating that she wasn't a fan of the Canadian haircut. Many tried to write off the Beliebers' comments as naive and foolish, but I do not. If they are old enough to use the internet unsupervised, they are old enough to know that a miscarriage is incredibly traumatic and painful, and absolutely not a laughing matter. I can only hope they never have to go through such an ordeal.

The Belieber fuelled hatred doesn't just happen on a public level, either. I myself have received countless messages of hate from these little girls. I expressed my disdain of Bieber allegedly releasing a cover of Prince's 'Purple Rain' to be told "go die bitch", or "you shoulda been aborted". Some of the more straightforward tweets simply said "fuck you". 

Do I believe the Beliebers to be dangerous? Absolutely. Not necessarily to others, but almost certainly to themselves. They are known to send death threats (and I will undoubtedly receive a few myself if they ever catch wind of this). I get that teenage girls are often lost in the haze of puberty, but these young girls are taking it to a whole different level. They are extremely obsessive, extremely possessive, and extremely deluded. A recent trending topic on Twitter was "Justin makes me wet". God only knows if these 12 year olds even know what that means or implies.

A whole new world (you totally just sang that, didn't you? You're singing it again now!) has opened up with the Beliebers. We now have obsessive fan groups for just about every singer or celebrity out there, each group determined to be more prolific and loving for their idol. Here in the UK, we have Directioners, the ever-growing base of Wand Erection, sorry, One Direction fans who are looking to rapidly overtake the Beliebers in the contest for Most Annoying Twitter Users. I've also received death threats from Directioners.. funny little things, these teenage girls. I hear they are currently spreading across the world and, for that, I can only apologise.

Eventually, everything will die down. Beiber will either get married or go the Macaulay Culkin route and lose his beloved fans and hair. One Direction will split up after the obligatory mid-tour bust up. The little girls will grow up and become mothers and will, hopefully, shudder if they see their own offspring acting in a similar way. But at this moment in time, the Beliebers are a clear and present danger, a plague on Twitter, and should be forced to carry a warning tick on their profiles, rather than a validation tick. 

Friday, 30 March 2012


It's Friday, and I have nothing to do! Those five words are sweet, sweet music to my ears. After working seven days straight, and over 48 hours on those seven days, the next three days are a godsend. I get to sit at home doing whatever I choose.. If I want to bake, I can. If I want to sleep in, I can (although I'm not exactly exercising that right at the moment by being wide awake and blogging at 7am) and if I want to forget all about horse and dog racing, I can.

But there's a flaw to my enchanted weekend off. And it comes in the form of an annoyingly addictive game. Angry Birds has plagued me ever since I discovered it was available on Facebook. I have fought the siren call of that catchy/annoying theme song for so, so long. And now I find myself desperate to splatter those little green pigs into obliteration.

On top of that, I'm struggling to find an easy way to register for an OU course. Expensive and not exactly easy to get through to them on the phone. I've tried and tried to register for my chosen course, but the registration materials didn't turn up until yesterday. So now, I have to wait until October to finally start doing what I want to do. Every silver lining...

Monday, 26 March 2012

That's My Cupcake!

For all who know me, it's no secret that I love to bake. So much so, that I've long envisioned one day opening my own little cupcake emporium. It's incredibly frustrating, and difficult, to find simple, exciting new recipes but I managed to find a delightful little magazine called, quite simply, Cake Decorating. I frantically searched high and low for the mag in literally every shop I walked into for a few days before the temptation got to me and I ended up subscribing.

Issue One came with a gorgeous gingham cardboard cupcake stand, two differently-sized butterfly cutters, and pink glitter. A godsend, if I'm honest, considering I've paid upwards of £3 for decorating glitter before! The easy-to-follow instructions in the mag have excited me beyond all reason, leading me to believe that I absolutely will ensure I turn my family into a family of cake and biscuit addicts!

I wasn't able to restrain myself from snapping up the second issue when I saw it in my local shop! This girl loves her baking too much to simply wait a few days...
Issue Two came complete with three reusable icing bags and nozzles. I've read mixed reviews about the bags online, but I'm sure anything is better than the disastrous bags I used for my Mother's Day cupcakes which literally exploded and ensured there was more chocolate icing on me than there were on the cakes!

I rarely rave about anything - especially magazines! - but it's rare that I feel so excited about a product. I've long waited for something that shares my enthusiasm about baking, decorating, and sharing and it's finally arrived in the form of Cake Decorating. I'm that one step closer to cupcake delirium.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

An ode to (500) Days of Summer...

I'm about to sound incredibly hipster-like, but I've always loved The Smiths, long before (500) Days of Summer entered the realm. That's primarily because my mum had epic taste in music and passed that on to me, and partly because I went through the stereotypical miserable-teenager stage which had me listening to The Smiths, Joy Division and The Cure almost continuously. Morrissey and Johnny Marr shall forever be gods in my mind.

I was 18 when a little non-linear film entered my life. I was just beginning to leave my miserable teenager shell and grow into an adult (some may argue I'm still stuck there almost three years later, but we'll leave that for another day). Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel brought the characters of Tom and Summer to life and, for once, my kooky little indie-self suddenly became the 'cool' thing. Most indie kids would fall apart at something like that happening, but I completely celebrate it.

Anything that enables people to discover new music or experiences I'm all for. Any film that features a dance sequence to a Hall & Oates song deserves to be immensely popular and celebrated. And as I sit here alone on a Saturday night watching this film, I'm suddenly revelling in my kooky, indie, Smiths loving self. Especially now that people understand it's not a phase. It's simply who I am.

Well hello there...

It's been a while since I updated this lovely little blog. Bad Amy! I admit, I've been too busy for it. How incredibly terrible of me!

A lot has happened since our last meeting. I've gone and got myself a real job! Yes it's still an evil job, and one that consumes my evenings and weekends, but it's a real job with real people and - perhaps most importantly - real money. The funemployment is over, and I admit I have shed an imaginary tear at that thought, but now I can begin moving on to bigger and better things.

On top of that, my months and months of trying has finally led to the creation of Chasing Alice! Not many people are particularly interested in my little side project, but I'm trying my hardest to get people to notice. I'm all for more contributors, or feedback. Alice isn't just for me to chase, there's magic for everyone out there!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

I feel old

My baby sister turns 18 today. I'm only two and a half years older than her, but I can remember my mum being pregnant with her. Therefore, Ruby turning 18 leaves me (at 20) feeling old. I'm doing all the grown up stuff now: I have a real job with real risk (!), I have a proper boyfriend, I pay bills (not many, but the point stands) and I'm crawling towards 30. And, for once, I'm not depressed at the impending doom of my old age. I'm excited by it. Yes, it sucks that I will one day have to bow down to the inevitable wrinkles and pension but, for now, life is pretty good. At least I'm getting older and getting money. Makes a change from getting older and not getting money.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


The Boyfriend isn’t here tonight. And my funemployment reached new levels of smugness just now when I realised that pretty much every branch of South London travel is currently affected by manic chaos (person under a train at Norbury, person under a train at Stockwell, Victoria station closed, London Bridge station closed.. How on earth will we cope with the Olympics?!)
Being at home sans Lurch tonight means that I absolutely have the time to do everything I am too embarrassed to do in his company: exercise, militant skincare regime, weeping wildly to West Side Story/Funny Girl/any other musical I can get my hands on tonight. I also definitely get to watch Glee without being criticised (I need some Lea Michele in my life, it’s been too long!)
Although, I know what I’ll totally end up doing tonight. I’ll open a bottle of wine, listen to John Mayer for hours whilst smoking a ridiculous amount of cigarettes, and crying endlessly whilst I listen to ‘Gravity’ on a loop. Until 2am finally arrives and working links for Glee are plastered online, so that I can then spend 45 minutes crying endlessly whilst either listening to Lea Michele serenading me or despairing at how much Ryan Murphy hates me and doesn’t want to let me listen to Ms Lea Michele.
Oh, and I will almost definitely try to teach my cats how to dance. Who needs exercise, anyway? 

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Making waves...

Okay, 'waves' is the wrong word. But Chasing Alice is up and running. Yes, the name is terrible but it was the only thing my awful brain could come up with at 3am. It won't officially be up and running for a few weeks yet - leaving enough time to hopefully find some contributors. I believe that everyone has a voice, a positive one, and have hopefully created an environment where people will be able to express that voice. Chasing Alice won't be my site, it will be yours. It will belong to anyone who reads or contributes to it.

Although the project is in it's infancy at the moment, it will eventually become a creative hub where people can write, sing, photograph, draw or whatever to their hearts' content. Sort of a sharing place where the contributors will detail things that inspire them, or just simply share favourite memories, music, books, etc. in the hope that other people will also feel enlightened or inspired, and thus creating a little environment where people are free to express themselves through the arts.

If you have anything you would like to submit, or perhaps any questions you would like answered, the Chasing Alice team can be contacted through Yes, the site is pretty bare at the moment, but that will change with your input. Make 'Alice' the site you want it to be!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Facebook is great, as is Twitter, Tumblr, etc. But I’m pretty bored of only the “Hipsters” being appreciated. There is beauty and talent everywhere, not just with the regular crowd who seemingly only appreciate carbon copies. It’s been an ambition of mine for quite to a while to create a hub for people to express themselves. A place for people to share what inspires them, things they’re passionate about, places they love and people they admire. I’m not going to fool myself into thinking it can happen overnight, but I’m determined to get the ball rolling this year. I’m turning 21 this year and I’m desperate to finally achieve this. 
In a world so full of negativity, the positive aspects can get lost and blurred so easily. People spend so much time reading, writing, and singing about things they hate and things that get them down. I wonder: have we lost the ability to truly accept the positive areas of our lives? Do we dwell on the negativity in order to feel good about ourselves? I’m not about that! I need creativity, and beauty, and inspiration in order to survive. It helps me become a better writer and photographer, and it helps me to become a better individual. 
So here is my plea: I can’t promise you that this project will hit the big time this year, or ever, in fact. But if there’s something you’re passionate about, or something you adore, then please share it with me. I will provide full details to anyone and everyone who is interested. Believe me, it will make so much more sense when I have people on board!
Taking a break from writing before I go insane. Amusing myself with 'Alice Roulette'. It's something I used to do as a kid whenever I was ill, and seeing as I'm still stuck in this cold/flu haze funk, and am suffering from severe writers' block, I've decided it's time to play once again. The whole idea of the game - which I invented as a six year old with chickenpox - is to flick through 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' and whenever I land on a page, I read the first paragraph that I see. After that, I watch the relevant scene from the original Disney movie. Sure, it's weird and doesn't make much sense, but it kept me happy as a child, and I'm still happy with it now.

So as I battle this awful flu/cold thing and attempt to break down this horrifying writers' block (seriously, why is it so hard to break through this?!) I'm finding comfort in my childhood companion. And also, baby animal pictures online. Who doesn't love baby elephants?

Monday, 2 January 2012

I’m laying in bed, watching Philosopher’s Stone, and avoiding the important conversation I’ve been meaning to have with myself. It’s an all too common conversation and I’m absolutely dreading the thought of having to have it again. Instead, I’m distracting myself with Harry Potter and all the glorious childhood memories it’s bringing back. Back then, I wasn’t such a confused, neurotic individual. Instead, I was convinced that magick, in all of it’s glory, truly existed. I spent my days pretending I was Alice, searching for the rabbit hole every where I went. When I wasn’t desperately trying to be Alice, I instead created my own characters. I would bribe my younger sister into playing with me, forcing her to live out my imagination in front of any family members who would sit and watch for longer than five minutes. I would write stories, countless stories, about the most bizarre things. Some of them were pretty awful (including one ‘novel’ written aged 5 about a boy called ‘Charlam’. I couldn’t pick between Charlie and Adam, so he was stuck with the name Charlam. There was a whole series about him!) but some of them truly captured my warped imagination and limitless optimism. And thinking about all of this has got me thinking: What happened to our imaginations? Why does all of that magick and wonder have to disappear once we become adults? Why do we need to grow up? I’m not too keen on that school of though. So I’ve had an idea. One that will keep me amused, entertained, and enthralled. Send me your favourite stories of childhood imagination to my inbox. Your stories will remain private unless you express that you want them published on my blog. I’m fascinated to hear your stories. Will we ever grow up? Should we ever have to? Let me know… Don’t be shy!

Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics
You are all stardust.
You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded. Because the elements, the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnace of stars. And the only way they could get into your body is if the stars were kind enough to explode. So forget Jesus. The stars died so you could be here
Lawrence Krauss

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It's 2012! We made it! I made it! I've developed a new fondness for exclamation marks!!!
Seriously, I can't believe that we have made it through yet another year. 2011 wasn't the best year (it wasn't the worst year) but I'm shocked I made it through relatively unscathed. And I sat down today to write out my New Year's Resolutions. Thinking that I'd only come up with two or three, my notebook suddenly had a three-page long list of resolutions. Some are slightly obvious (get a job, become healthier, quit bickering with Val) but some are slightly bemusing, even to me. It's incredible what your mind can come up with when you're not forcing ideas out. 

I doubt 2012 will be my year (after all, I'll still only be 21 at the end of it) but I've got a good feeling about the year. Maybe it's because I feel liberated from the god-awful job I found myself in last year, maybe it's because I honestly feel safe and comfortable with the people in my life, or maybe it's just because I know it's finally my turn to have an amazing year. Either way, I'm not going to think about it too much (another New Year's Resolution - Stop overanalysing everything).. I'm just going to enjoy it and hope that this good feeling lasts. It's been a while since I've felt so happy, I'm gonna cling on to it as much as possible.*

*Give it three weeks and I'll probably be saying "2012 is The. Worst. Year. Of. My. Life." It wouldn't surprise me.